Over the past half century, the number of priests across the U.S. has dropped by about 38 percent — from nearly 60,000 diocesan and religious order priests in 1970 to 37,192 in 2016, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University in Washington, DC.
The archdioceses of Newark and New York have about half the number of diocesan priests than they did during the heyday of the 1960s and 1970s. “There’s been a net decline in priests every year because more pass away, and there are more that leave than enter or get ordained,” observed Mark Gray, a research associate at CARA. “We’ve also had a graying of the priesthood. The average priest is 67 years old.”
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